A different script calls for different things. It always takes me a long time to get to know the part, and know the logic behind the words. I have to be with the script for quite a long time before things start to fall into place, before they become part of the character.
Being in nature is very important to me. I’m not a glamour puss.
Characters that are not the norm or a bit out of the ordinary are always a challenge as an actress. You learn more by using different tools for those type of characters. They are always much more fun to play and much more interesting. They take you places that you wouldn’t necessarily go in your everyday life.
Comedy was why I got into acting the first place. Peter Sellers was a huge influence on my wanting to act. I grew up with him and found him hysterical. The Pink Panther films were an inspiration, from my earliest childhood days, when I was watching them with my brother and my dad.
Different directors have different things, so when I left Mike Leigh, as it were, and I went into other projects after ‘All or Nothing,’ it took some getting used to – what do you mean there’s a script?!?’ That kind of thing.
I do worry about young people in the business who have experienced a lot of success and are punted around doing those manic publicity trails, when you don’t really know who you are yet.
I don’t wear bright orange clothes or leopard skin boots, but it was really good fun to play someone that does and have an excuse too!
I first started acting in primary school, just doing little plays. And from the moment I began, something just went ‘click’ inside me. Suddenly I wasn’t shy anymore. Instead I felt confident and happy. I can remember the enormous sense of relief it gave me. I loved the feeling of making people laugh.
I grew up with ‘Jane Eyre,’ reading it at school, and it’s one of those, I think, for a lot of women, a lot of girls, it’s the iconic story and so many girls relate to Jane Eyre and her character.
I know from my own experience that great films and great actors can have a really big influence on you. There is a place for art in the world, and if you’re lucky enough to be good at something and to keep being given work, it’s not such a bad thing.
I love acting but I also love writing, especially comedy.
I love disappearing. That’s what acting is. For me it’s about putting on a persona, stepping into a pair of shoes. It’s my face, but I’m using it as a tool for that spirit, that character.
I love working and I love doing lots of things and a variety of things. It keeps your mind active… and you don’t end up worrying about just the one thing. When I chew things over or analyze too much, that is when I can trip myself up.
I loved working with kids, and kids are the most incredibly discerning audience. And if they don’t believe you, they will tell you and let you know. I mean, kids is where it’s at, really.
I never come away from a film thinking I nailed it.
I remember once giving my dad some drawings and writings and said, ‘If you could just give these to the publisher, that would be great.’ And I was about five!
I sort of fall in love with every character I do; you have to understand how they became what they’ve become, whether they’re the ugly kind or the very beautiful kinds of characters.
I’m not very well known. However, the more well known you get, the more people are going to have expectations of you. Although that’s great, it also imposes certain pressures.
I’m quite an optimist, quite happy in life, quite smiley.
It’s different for every project. Some parts are quicker than others to get and know; sometimes right up until the last moment you’re just praying that something will click. But you can only do a certain amount of work and then at some point you’ve got to think: ‘OK, I’m just going to have to leap now.’
My feet are like something from another age – prehistoric and troll-like. I keep expecting them to talk, they have that much character.
My parents have a strong work ethic, but their attitude to life, their philosophy, is: ‘whatever makes you happy.’
Of course you want to be good and you want to do the best you can, but I am inspired by great writing. If there’s something about the script, that’s what I go for, although I know that that doesn’t always translate because sometimes it’s about the vision of the director.
One of the things I love about acting is that I can enter into these other people’s lives. But going back to being me at the end of the day is very important, too. That process of remembering who I am.
People are funny, and in the most tragic situations, when comedy erupts from nowhere, it can turn on its head within the space of a second or a minute. You’re laughing one minute and you’re crying the next and that’s just life for me, and that is what people are like.
Sometimes you go into a film and you have no time to prepare and have to compress the details into a few days and then rely on the instinct and what happens when you’re in a scene with other actors and that chemistry or not.
The one thing that’s going to get you through this business is having strong roots, being grounded and knowing what is true.
What works for me is knowing the character in an emotional sense. I wish I was more logical but it doesn’t work for me like that. I need quite a lot of time; it’s why I always worry when I’m doing more than one thing at a time. I hope that some sort of magic will kick in.
When an audience is affected in a way that I’ve seen with some people, it’s so inspiring to me an actor. You know that you’re on the right track and you’re doing work that can affect people. When that goes hand-in-hand with important issues that we’re still living with, and we will be for a long time, sadly, it’s so confirming of everything.
You always want your films to go as far as they can.
You can’t be a woman and not be a feminist, I don’t think. If you care about the world and the world you exist in and your rights.
You do your bit and then you hope for the best and you think, oh I hope there’s an audience at the end of the day.
You only do good work when you’re taking risks and pushing yourself.
You say something, things you would rather forget, and then they are out there. It makes me anxious and I don’t know why people are interested in me anyway. If I had my way, I would rather exist in a little hole and not speak to anyone.
You think that adulthood will hit and you’ll suddenly be more capable. But that doesn’t happen, ever, does it?